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Redesigning Training Programs for the COVID-19 Era and Beyond Design Consideration 5: Embrace Partnerships

October 14, 2020

This is the fifth design consideration of the Redesigning Training Programs for the COVID-19 Era and Beyond.

At this time, training programs should not hesitate to seek support from partners—both internal and external.

The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are too much for most organizations to tackle alone. Pivoting to remote learning environments, reconfiguring training materials and classroom activities for virtual settings, overhauling outreach and recruitment strategies, providing services and supports to participants and keeping them engaged, and providing staff with support and resources create a tremendous burden for leaders of training programs. Therefore, at this moment in time it’s crucial for programs to fully embrace their existing partnerships and actively try to expand and diversify their networks of partnerships.

Building networks of partners that include workforce development organizations, postsecondary institutions, employers, CBOs, and service providers can enable programs to move their work forward without being overburdened by all the new challenges they’re facing.

As they seek to make the most of current partnerships and forge new ones, programs should first identify what activities and operations they “own”—what are their areas of expertise, and what do they have the capacity to focus on? From there, they should work closely with other organizations to fill in the gaps. This could mean collaborating with a CBO to provide housing, food, or child care assistance to program participants; working with a local library or community center to increase access to the technology required for online learning; or teaming up with an employer or a community college to administer components of job training programs.

Here are some examples of ways in which programs are leveraging their partnerships to respond to the new demands they’re facing during the pandemic:

  • Workforce boards and CBOs are continuing to convene their employer advisory groups, and they’re engaging members of those panels in efforts to design work-based learning activities for virtual platforms. They’re also hosting virtual job fairs to help keep participants connected to the workforce.
  • Organizations of all kinds report that their partners are stepping up and working with them to meet immediate needs of learners.
  • Cross-sector groups made up of training providers, workforce systems, employers, and other stakeholders are joining forces to learn about one another’s concerns and craft solutions to problems.

Ivy Tech Community College, Statewide, Indiana: To help meet the needs of community members, Ivy Tech has partnered with the Indiana State Department of Health to provide mobile COVID-19 testing services. It has also teamed up with local community groups to set up mobile food pantries in college parking lots.